What’s in a (domain) name?
Every day, in fact countless times each day we see small businesses shooting themselves in the foot when it comes to getting free traffic from the search engines.
It drives us crazy the opportunities these guys are literally throwing away – the easiest step-up in search engine optimisation it’s possible to make.
And this really isn’t rocket science, tricksy SEO tactics or state of the art bleeding edge optimisation – we’re talking as basic as it gets… How you name your domain.
Doug and Mary
Doug Mackie and Mary Moore* have a small painting and decorating company in Dunbar, East Lothian and want to get on-line.
They want to get online because they’re hoping to generate a bit more business.
Their company is Mackie And Moore, so one day filled with excitement – they buy MackieAndMoore.com.
They’re just thrilled to bits with their domain and quickly get themselves a small website built locally, get their URL printed onto their van and business cards – happy as can be. They get on with their work safe in the knowledge that business will roll in.
Each night they check their e-mail account looking to chase up all the leads their new website will be generating.
Except as the days, weeks and then months roll by Doug and Mary don’t see any additional custom from their website.
I was pretty puzzled, not to mention angry. All the money we’d spent on our new website, all the time we spent writing copy – and we’ve had no return on investment. We feel like giving up… So where did we go wrong?
It could have been so easy…
You see Doug and Mary wanted a website to increase their trade.
Which means they were wanting a website to attract search engine traffic.
The thing is, whats the first thing people in Dunbar type into their search engine of choice when they’re looking for a decorator?
Is it “Mackie and Moore”?
Of course not. It’s “Decorators Dunbar“
If only Doug and Mary knew just how easy it could be.
Picking a domain for SEO
Search engines still (and no doubt always will) place a decent chunk of search rank importance on the domain name. They have to do this so that a search for a big brand will always return the brand name’s site first.
Not only does the domain name matter, but in a location based search, the ccTLD (or country code Top Level Domain) does too.
Doug and Mary are not international painters and decorators and do much of their work in and around Dunbar, in the UK. They don’t need to appear on search engines in America or China – so for them a .co.uk domain would have been far more suitable than a .com.
To maximise their chances of ranking – even without any additional SEO tactics – Doug and Mary should have bought a keyword rich domain, taking advantage of domain relevance in search results. Domains, such as DecoratorsDunbar.co.uk – or EastLothianDecorators.co.uk – or DunbarPainters.co.uk.
Even better, they should buy all of these domains (this doesn’t just help them rank and provide them with future opportunity for additional SEO, it stops their competitors from doing the same!)
If they had built their website on any of these domains, chances are pretty high that with even the most rudimentary on-page SEO, they’d rank somewhere on the first page for the terms (and yes, this even works for larger cities).
See our domain? We’re web designers so we have web design in the URL. It just makes sense.
When you’re selecting a domain name for SEO, it should reflect what you do and the area you cover. Domains are cheap – there’s nothing to stop you buying up several. When you decide to really step up your SEO efforts you’ll be glad you did!
Vanity and brand Domains
That’s not to say Doug and Mary shouldn’t have bought the domain they did. For branding, a yourname.com domain is excellent.
Also known as a vanity URL, for sticking on your business cards, company vehicles and for any e-mail address, yourname.com gets our vote every time. (It also puts an end to our other pet hate – firstname.lastname@example.org type addresses. Don’t do it kids.)
You want easy SEO? You want to get a leg-up the results pages without employing an SEO agency?
- Buy a Keyword-Location.localTLD. domain
- Build your site on your keyword domain.
- Then put a domain forward on yourname.com to your keyword domain.
This way you get type-in traffic from people who already know of you – but you’ll also get new traffic from the search engines.
And everyone’s happy.
Want more advice on buying a domain name? Need Local SEO help? Get In Touch
* names have been changed